So this time I decided to MAKE it interesting. I perused TripAdvisor for “things to do” that were cheap or free and didn’t take much time, without straying too far off the I-20. So, what did we see in this vast expanse of nothing from Dallas to El Paso?
1. Frontier Texas, Abilene
In the quaint town of Abilene stands a museum dedicated to the formation of the Texas frontier. Holographic “spirit guides” portray real frontiersmen and women, Native Americans and soldiers, narrating their points of view along our route (so realistic I wanted to pinch them). Well-crafted exhibits described the region 13,000 years ago up through the Comanche Empire, both Mexican and American pioneering efforts, clashes between those settlers and the Comanches, the military’s peacekeeping arrival and eventual shift to war, the buffalo trade craze leading to near extinction, and the subsequent segue into cattle ranching. We certainly got a feel for the hard-scrabble life on the frontier and the tough-as-nails people who populated what is now West Texas.
2. Chris Kyle Memorial, Odessa
Several miles off the highway in Odessa, a small memorial commemorates the Navy Seal of “American Sniper” fame. It’s pretty much just a statue, but a nicely crafted one. There’s just one problem. A giant tarantula guarded the entrance…aackkk! Good thing he was slow and didn’t chase me. Otherwise I woulda been outta there!
3. Stonehenge, Odessa
Just down the road is Stonehenge! In full scale replica. Unusual, right? Not exactly. Did you know there are at least 7 other Stonehenge reproductions all over the USA? Like this one, most are built using gigantic rock slabs. But one version is actually made out of cars – Carhenge; another of foam – Foamhenge; one is even made with refrigerators - Stonefridge. (Refrigerators? Really?) Well, THIS stone Stonehenge isn’t quite so quirky. While 14% shorter than the original 22ft-high megaliths in England, these 20-ton limestone slabs do form an impressive scene. But knowing this imitation was built in literally 6 weeks vice 2000 YEARS, using modern equipment… well… somehow that dampened the intrigue.
Visit Frontier Texas!
If you’re I-20ing and bored out of your mind, I’d recommend Frontier Texas for a great history lesson. It was worth our 2-3 hour delay. After examining the travails of living in & traversing this harsh land, we saw our I-20 doldrums in a whole new light: traveling in a fast, air-conditioned car, on asphalt roads, with convenient Flying J’s, clean Microtels and an Arby’s at every exit…thank goodness for the modern era!